Spiritual Reflections

The Be Attitudes: Mansuetude and Similitude

It took me a while to really internalize this topic; hence, the long delay. I just realized that this one is actually the hardest for me. Not only did it went against my old nature, it still is an ongoing struggle for me. I probably will keep on fighting for it for a long time — and I thank God for the strength to win each encounter.

I guess I could say that by nature, I am an arrogant person. I know that I have been privileged with an above-average intellect as well as other talents that I have yet to harness to its optimum potential. And I know that if I manage to achieve my physical goal soon, I would be a danger to most single ladies (haha). But these are just a glimpse of how highly I think of myself! Here are a few more:

  • I hate losing arguments where I know I am right.
  • I hate being forced to follow people whose leadership I don’t trust.
  • I hate being looked down on.
  • I hate being ignored, neglected, unappreciated.
  • I want to hold on to my so called rights. I want to enjoy what I deserve.

And these things get me frustrated all the time. And disappointed. And depressed.

I hate being weak.

Isn’t it better to express, to stand up and defend myself? 

I was doing a simple research on possible words for this Be Attitude series when I stumbled across the old word mansuetude. It is the quality or state of being gentle (or gentleness of manner). It also means meekness and mildness. And it’s hard to be meek. Most people cannot even distinguish between meekness and weakness, and some even think they’re just the same. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Survival of the fittest. Only the strong can make the rules.

Such ideologies somehow reminds me of my favorite manga/anime, Rurouni Kenshin. The main character is of course one of the strongest swordsmen in the story. Despite his amazing fighting ability, he has learned to sheathe his strength through kindness and love for people. In fact, he would often seem so weak and fragile that it would make you wonder how he can be so awesome in battles.

Being meek is not about being weak. Being meek is not the same as being like a helpless mouse that squeaks. It’s about being a massive elephant. Its tusks can hurt. Its trunk can hurt. And if you let it stomp you, it will definitely hurt a lot. It has the power to overwhelm other creatures — yet it is one of the gentlest animals in this world.

Mansuetude is also described as the sweetness of temper. Being meek is not about giving up the fight — it’s about understanding what the fight really is all about. Being meek is not throwing back a punch or slap when someone angry, hurting or bitter can only express their emotion through violent expressions of pain. Being meek is about staying quiet even when you are right, simply because you realize that the person you’re having a difficult discussion with has a troubling personal issue. Being meek is letting someone you care ignore you, neglect you — even when you desperately need their words, their hug, their attention, their company.

The word likewise connotes tameness — and it paints a rather interesting picture of what being meek really is.

What does it mean to tame something?

Going back to the word, here’s a really interesting explanation:

The word — meaning gentleness or mildness — comes from Latin mansuetus, tamed or made gentle. It contains manus, hand (from which English got manicuremanufacturecommandmanual and other words), and suetus, accustomed (which is from the verb suescere, the source of a few words, of which the best known is desuetude). The idea behind mansuetus is that if an animal has become accustomed to the hand, it has been tamed.

This reminds me of some hand-related lessons I gathered from experience:

  • Being slapped by my mom for shamelessly saying a cuss word
  • Receiving corporal punishment from my dad whenever I do something wrong
  • Withstanding pain when our Preparatory Military Training (PMT, formerly CAT) officers would punch us as part of the hazing
  • Learning to connect and communicate empathy through the hands
  • Learning how to shake hands like a real man
  • Learning how to hold a girl’s hand gently
  • Being careful in holding a glass or any breakables
  • Respecting the blade/knife

As a Christian, I can’t resist but also be reminded of Biblical allusions to God’s hand — of how His hand guides us, protects us, hides us, carries us, trains us and lifts us. And as a Christian, I realized that a lot of my own tamed behavior was due to the disciplines and principles I adopted from His Word.

At the same time, the attitude of being meek can truly be possible when we realize that we are all the same. This is the heart of similitude. Roughly, similitude is the quality or state of being similar to something. And in a sense, it is with similitude that we notice how pointless it is to be haughty and think of one’s self as better than the other. When we realize and accept that we are all going through the same struggles in life, when we all understand that everyone has their own share of problems and challenges, when we learn to empathize with each others’ hidden and obvious tears, when we discover the truth of how we are not so alone at all in suffering this crazy world — being meek can become so natural after all.

Similitude also denotes a visible likeness — and as a Christian, this brings me back to an important Bible principle: that I, as a man, was made in God’s image. And that is something to be proud of. But there’s an ironic passage in the Bible that teaches us on God’s attitude on this:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. [Philippians 2:5-8 NLT]

Christ Himself was in similitude with God — showcasing His supremacy over all! Yet having subjected Himself to become a man for our sakes, He exhibited mansuetude — allowing Himself to suffer all our human conditions: fear, hunger, insecurity, worries, anger, and more. Yet He overcame it all, showing us a way to truly and fully win through this life.

So don’t let your emotions, thoughts and actions go wild. Tame your heart. Tame your mind. Tame your spirit. And train your hand to show and teach gentleness to more people.

• • •

Thank you for reading this blog series! If you want to know more about the be attitudes, here’s the list:

#0 — Introduction

#1 — Gratitude

#2 — Rectitude & Correctitude

#3 — Certitude

#4 — Solicitude

#5 — Promptitude

#6 — Fortitude

#7 — Vicissitude

#8 — Quietude & Solitude

#9 — Mansuetude & Similitude


9 thoughts on “The Be Attitudes: Mansuetude and Similitude

  1. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: An Introduction | I am radical

  2. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Gratitude | I am radical

  3. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Rectitude and Correctitude | I am radical

  4. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Certitude | I am radical

  5. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Solicitude | I am radical

  6. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Promptitude | I am radical

  7. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Fortitude | I am radical

  8. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Vicissitude | I am radical

  9. Pingback: The Be Attitudes: Quietude and Solitude | I am radical

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